Success and Failure in eGovernment Projects

Assessing eGov Project Risks:
Real-World Design-Reality Example 3

Campus-Wide Networking for a Public University in East Africa

Case Study Authors

Teclebrhan Medin and Richard Heeks


This public university has been struggling somewhat, particularly given global competition in higher education. It is therefore proposed to develop a campus-wide network of Internet-enabled computers. The aim is to improve the academic and administrative performance of the university. Key general stakeholders are the staff, students and potential students of the university. Key specific stakeholders are the university's Strategic Planning Office, and a European donor involved in long-term cooperation on higher education in the country.

Risk Assessment Via Design-Reality Gap Analysis

Design-reality gap analysis compares the assumptions/requirements within the application design with the existing reality in the public organisation along seven 'ITPOSMO' dimensions. The larger the gap, the larger the risk for the e-government project. Follow this link for more information on design-reality gap analysis.

Overall Risk Assessment and Recommendation

The overall gap rating total for this design proposal is 30.5. According to the gap assessment table, this suggests a possibility of partial failure of the project unless action is taken. The recommendation was to proceed with the project, but undertaking actions to reduce some of the larger design-reality gaps.

Gap Reduction Actions to Mitigate Project Risks

To mitigate e-government project risks, you first identify those ITPOSMO dimensions with the largest gaps. Then you attempt to reduce those gaps by altering the project design to make it more like current reality and/or by altering current reality to make it more like the project design.

The two largest gaps occur on the staffing and skills, and technology dimensions. It is these dimensions that should therefore be addressed first.

The proposed risk mitigation actions here were:

  1. Staffing and skills dimension . Alter current reality by engaging in an intensive series of training sessions for staff. Two principles to be observed during this training were: a) ensure that training relates skills as closely as possible to the actual workplace tasks that staff undertake; b) ensure that training takes place at the same time as the IT becomes available, not before (or new skills and knowledge will be forgotten), and not after (or time will be wasted).
  2. Staffing and skills dimension . Alter design/reality by hiring consultants to assist with the process of network design, implementation and initial operation. Two principles to be observed were: a) the consultants must work with local counterparts to ensure transfer of knowledge about the local situation to consultants; b) the consultancy must incorporate explicit counterpart training to ensure transfer of skills and knowledge from consultants to local staff.
  3. Technology dimension . Alter current reality by investing in power backup/generation technology and new telecommunications lines. Although this increases the design requirements for money, it can still create no increase in the 'other resources' gap because the additional financial requirements can be met by the donor.
Last updated on 19 October, 2008.
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